Pinckney, Tigers are focused on one thing

Pinckney, Tigers are focused on one thing

Football

Pinckney, Tigers are focused on one thing

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In August, the NCAA Division I Board of Governors approved recommendations made by the Division I Council to grant all fall sport student-athletes an extra year of eligibility and additional year to complete it through a blanket waiver. The move was made to help provide clarity on eligibility situations for college athletes whose fall seasons were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of that, Clemson defensive tackle Nyles Pinckney – a fifth-year senior who would be playing his final collegiate season under normal circumstances – instead has the option to return to Clemson for a sixth year if he so chooses.

However, Pinckney is not thinking right now about his future and whether he will come back for one more go-round as a Tiger in 2021. Currently, all of his attention is on getting ready to compete in the ACC Championship Game this coming Saturday against Notre Dame.

“Right now, I’m just focused on preparing for the ACC Championship and hopefully making a long run with my team to hopefully the playoff or a bowl game, and that’s the only thing that’s been on my mind lately,” Pinckney said this week.

Pinckney, a third-team All-ACC selection in 2019, entered the 2020 season with 71 career tackles (10.5 for loss), 2.0 sacks, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in 857 snaps over 43 career games (13 starts).

Through 10 games and 210 snaps this season, the Beaufort, S.C., native has tallied 24 total tackles, including three for loss and a sack, along with a quarterback pressure. Pinckney recovered a fumble in Clemson’s most recent game at Virginia Tech on Dec. 5, and earlier this year at Georgia Tech, he scored on a 1-yard touchdown run out of the Tigers’ jumbo package.

Every year Pinckney has been at Clemson, the Tigers have made it to and won the ACC title game. But while he is always appreciative of the chance to play for the conference crown, the opportunity feels even sweeter for him this year considering everything the team has had to endure during a season affected by the coronavirus.

“It’s just a great feeling because you know it’s not easy to get here, especially with COVID and everything this year,” Pinckney said. “We didn’t know if we were having a season, so even having the chance to go to the ACC Championship and fighting through what we did with adversity, with COVID, injuries, certain guys being out, and just trying to stay safe. And I feel like it’s a great honor, especially this year because you never knew what can happen. Up to this point, we’ve still got to be careful who we’re around, staying safe, and I feel like that’s all a challenge within itself off the field.”

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